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Does your print marketing need some botox? Here’s what the doctor ordered

If your print marketing is stuck in the 80s or 90s, this is an easy fix that requires no tech savviness, just a willingness to tinker!

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does your real estate print marketing need some pizazz?The real estate industry is comprised of hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom have no background in advertising or marketing which means that sometimes the independently launched marketing campaigns lack polish.

So let’s take a quick peek at some easy ways to jazz up your marketing and the example below is a flyer that was in front of a house as the marketing collateral… I point this out because you may not now how ridiculously common it is for people print the MLS listing and put it in a flyer box in front of a house and it looks like this:

standard flyer, how embarassing

Making it So Much Better

Oh this won’t do. Any effort you make is better than this, but let’s awesome-ify this flyer in under 30 minutes (60 for the over-perfectionist-tweakers). First, get the best images you have of the home you’re listing (I prefer professional photography), you’ll just need four. Open your Power Point, Open Impress or Photoshop, whatever it is so you can simply slap up some images. Insert the four photos into a new document and resize it to look like this (with your favorite shot as the lead):

real estate listing images

Now For the Pizazz!!

So this is the cool part- under your pictures, we’re going to add the pizazz! Go to the Idee Inc. Lab and click on the color palette on the right which will populate creative commons images (images that are legal to use) from Flickr that have the color(s) you select! For this flyer, we’re going to select two shades of green because we’re featuring a sustainable home but for your flyer, you may be advertising a brownstone building so you would select browns and tans, or you may be publishing materials for an oceanview property so you’d select aqua and navy.

multicolor idee labs interface

Bringing It All Together

So now we have an awesome palette and to grab it, use your screenshot tool to capture the image. Now, we’ll pull the image you just created and put it into the document with the four images you already gathered:

And Voila!

Now either select all the images and group them and save them as an image by right clicking and “save as image” (or in Photoshop, just save the image). Now open up Picnik (the Flickr photo editor) which I use as a substitute for Photoshop. All I did was crop this image, add the word “GREEN” in white and faded it 30%, used a clean font to very simply line out the details but I don’t show the price. Why? Price changes lead to reprints and if you’re using high quality paper and you don’t want to kill extra trees, don’t list the price. Why else? Because the most important detail on this flyer is the web address at the bottom- flyers only give you the possibility of analyzing metrics if they direct a buyer to the website. Here’s the final product:

final home sales flyer sample

The Most Killer Idea OF ALL!

The flyer above can easily be created in a large format, sent to your local sign shop and printed as the yard sign for your listing. Now THAT is a killer idea- it’s unique, very attractive, eye-catching and can be printed as a two-sided sign that impresses your sellers and your buyers, it’s a win win win! If you and your seller are eco-conscious, the flyer can also be shrunk down to business card size and printed as business cards… there are now business card holders that can be attached to signs that are weather resistant and with business cards, sellers can carry a stack of those bad boys with them and hand them out- brilliant!

Show Us Whatcha Got!

This project took me about 15 minutes to make and I’ve got something that stands out which all home sellers deserve even if their home is only selling for $30,000. I invite you to use this layout, make your own, but try to experiment and get away from the 1990’s standard templates that have come and gone… be brave with graphics, fonts and layouts! If you use any of these tips above in a flyer or have more to share, leave a link to it in the comments, we’d love to see!

Originally published September 13, 2008.

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54 Comments

54 Comments

  1. Gus Rojo aka: Mr_Monopoly

    September 13, 2008 at 8:58 pm

    Great piece Lani, bout time someone speaks up about improving old school marketing!! We’ve had a lot more success spicing up our collateral pieces, especially in our market (UT Austin) where we push a lifestyle brand (aka. “The Good Life”). Here’s a lil preview of our work:
    westcampusliving.com/docs/West_Campus_Living_2008.pdf

  2. Laura Cannon

    September 14, 2008 at 12:09 am

    Thank you for sharing this! This is a great inspiration!

  3. Ben Goheen

    September 14, 2008 at 12:55 am

    Great tutorial Lani – hopefully I’ll see agents using techniques like this instead of just printing up the MLS listing.

  4. Steve Simon

    September 14, 2008 at 6:04 am

    Sadly, the gift you displayed is not easily transfered…
    I have other gifts, but not the “Artistic gene”…
    I know that yours looks better and can discuss why, but I can’t create from scratch…
    I could probably come close if I looked at the good example and then imitated it; but the color groups might be questionable!
    For those like me, there things like “Templates” 🙂
    But one does have to admit, your flyer isn’t even in the same zipcode as the first!
    Wish I had that gift!

  5. Jess

    September 14, 2008 at 10:59 am

    Nice job! Makes it easier for those individuals that don’t have the “big” software tools available to them.

  6. Derec Shuler

    September 14, 2008 at 11:00 am

    Nice piece and super easy, at least you made it look that way !!! @derecshuler

  7. hilton

    September 14, 2008 at 11:05 am

    Damn Girl!

  8. Bill Lublin

    September 14, 2008 at 11:12 am

    Lani:
    This is awesome (especially the point about using flickr for the cool faded text – But what can you use for cool screenshots if you are not on a Vista machine? (And therefore don’t have the snipping tool)

  9. Lisa Sanderson

    September 14, 2008 at 11:22 am

    Wow. You’re my hero. I am so trying this.

  10. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    September 14, 2008 at 11:25 am

    Bill, check out the comments of the Snapshot article. From what I understand, there are tons of free screenshot tools online. 🙂

    I’m glad everyone’s enjoying it, please feel free to rip it off, this is not a real property I featured, rather a template created. 🙂

  11. Bob Schenkenberger

    September 14, 2008 at 11:32 am

    Bill, I use the Jing screenshot tool. https://jingproject.com. It’s easy, powerful, and free.

  12. Matt Rains

    September 14, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    I love the ad but since the images are pulled randomly by flickr is there a chance of an inappropriate picture in the mix?? I can’t see it very good but is the picture in the top left corner, first row second from the right of a man streaking? HAHA

    Great Post.

    Matt Rains

  13. Ismail

    September 14, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    The ad looks amazing, its good to know that you can make such outstanding ads in a short period of time.

  14. Lisa Sanderson

    September 14, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    LOL I am not ashamed to admit that Matt’s comment made me come back for a second look. Any chance we could have this emailed to us in a larger, higher res file?? ^^

  15. Brad Nix

    September 14, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    While we’re sharing cool tools to use…I suggest Realtors try https://www.getpaint.net/ as a FREE replacement for photoshop and https://www.jingproject.com/ for screenshots. Nice Tips Lani.

  16. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    September 14, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    Matt, Lisa, behave yourselves, it’s a soccer player. They’re known for wearing shortie shorts!

    Brad, thanks for adding those tools to the mix, those are great!!

    Steve, you’re right, it’s easy for those with an innate graphic eye to forget that it’s not something everyone has. I spend a lot of time studying marketing and graphic design and we analyze print, web and television marketing all the time for fun AND for professional reasons. It’s like writing- it takes practice. 🙂

  17. Daniel Bates

    September 14, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    I couldn’t agree with you more about lame print advertising. You spent more time on this one than most agents do in an entire year. And then there was the one I saw yesterday that was a beautiful folding brochure for a $2M house that was beautifully laid out but every picture used was so pixeled that it defeated all their effort. 1) Get a good camera. 2) Learn to use it. 3) Learn Photoshop or at least Paint! 4) Learn Word or some other layout program. 5) Succeed!

  18. Vicki Lloyd

    September 14, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    Lani –

    Your example came out great. I can’t wait to try something similar on my next brochure! Thank you.

  19. Jason Sandquist

    September 14, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    I have a REAL pizzazz, it’s the greatest invention ever, would not have made it through my early years with out it. Oh, BTW the idea is awesome, will experiment a lot with it

  20. Matt Rains

    September 14, 2008 at 7:06 pm

    Lani,

    I thought it might be a soccer player then I went and tried the “Alamy Set” and a naked pregnant woman came up exposing everything god gave to her. I guess that wouldn’t exactly work but as long as I stick with Flickr I should be fine.

    Thanks for the great post your a revolutionary inspiration to us all.

    Matt Rains

  21. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    September 14, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    Matt, thanks for the compliment but as for the remainder of your comment, since I’m not sure what you’re getting at, here are some answers to your objections:

    Avoid the “Alamy Set” it’s stock photography anyhow and you cannot open the image or enlarge to see if any image is unsuitable.

    Add colors or remove colors to change the image set.

    Under the set, the word “next” appears which will load an entirely new set.

    If a set is perfect barring one image, you can still take a screenshot and use text to cover it up (just don’t fade the text).

    If you have found the perfect set but don’t like some of the images, get creative with your photo editor, cover it with a white box and use more than five so it looks like it’s on purpose.

    …or, in your photo editor, duplicate one of the thumbnails that is suitable and replace the unsuitable image with the duplicate.

    If an image is produced that is out of place then use your photo editor to create a black, white, or similarly colored square the covers the image and fade it down so the image isn’t quite as visible.

    If an image pops up that you hate for any reason at all, exclude that row of images (crop it out).

    I hope this helps 🙂

  22. Jim Rake

    September 15, 2008 at 5:57 am

    Lani – I can always use better ways to market. Of course, what you accomplished in 15 minutes will certainly take me a bit longer.

  23. Steve Simon

    September 15, 2008 at 8:37 am

    Afterthought… I like the Snipping tool almost as much as I like the rest of the creation…
    Your post gives great value to the reader, and your style is comfortable to view.
    Well done, again:)

  24. Mark Eckenrode | HomeStomper

    September 15, 2008 at 10:11 am

    way cool tip, lani. and stellar end result that’s pleasing to the eye, stands out from all the sterile-looking fliers, easy to consume, and targets a specific type of buyer.

  25. Matt Stigliano

    September 15, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    While we’re speaking about photo editing software tips…for anyone that uses a Mac and doesn’t want to blow their cash on Photoshop:

    Gimp

    I love open source, have I mentioned that before? I’ve only started to play with Gimp, but so far so good.

    As for the flyer, I’m so happy to see something on this subject as I feel real estate flyers are boring. An MLS printout with one photo and lots of abbreviations isn’t going to sell me a house when I’m driving around looking at them (my new MLS doesn’t use the abbreviations, so at least we have that going for us). Even when I do open houses for other agents, I always make custom flyers (even if they’re template based, they’re better than what most people are used to) that showcase the property better. I want people to go home and have something they can look at and helps them remember what they saw, not just wind up in a trash can somewhere.

    I’m not sure about the price part though. Although I see what you’re saying about that, I know that when I’ve been looking for houses I tend to get annoyed that someone didn’t put a price on a flyer and feel as if I call them I’ll get the “hard sell” just while trying to get a price out of them.

  26. Tim

    September 16, 2008 at 10:22 am

    Lani,
    Thanks for a great idea, although I’m sure it’s going to take me more than 15 minutes until I use it more frequently. Still worth the time for the impact you can get.

  27. Steve

    September 17, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    Awesome. Loved it!

  28. Craig Barrett

    September 17, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    Thanks Lani. I tried it out and made a good looking flyer. I passed it around the office and got a couple of hmmm, that’s pretty cool… How’d you do it?

  29. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    September 17, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    Daniel- great tips! You’re right, sometimes things overlooked can shoot you in the foot!

    Vicki- drop me a note when you do, I’d love to see it! 🙂

    Jason- please don’t make me google stuff, you know I hate that. lol

    Jim- don’t worry about how long it takes you, everyone’s different. I write articles much more quickly than others but an email may take me double the amount of time as you would (tweaking, retooling, etc).

    Steve Simon- thanks! A lot of bloggers assume that readers have already stuffed their brains with what they have and take their accumulated knowledge for granted. I’m glad that tip helped you!

    Mark- is there anywhere you would *not* advise a flyer like this? It’s universally successful here in Austin but perhaps it wouldn’t go over well elsewehere?

    Matt- if you have 100 listings (I’m not a Realtor, so I have 0, but hear me out), it becomes tedious as price alterations are made and stacks of flyers are wasted (or recycled if you live here) and print costs amass each time agents have to reprint. My personal opinion is that if you have a large enough assistant staff or a low enough number of listings it’s reasonable but with massive numbers of listings, it’s a time saver.

    Tim- The first few might take you longer but after you get the hang of doing it, like any project, it gets easier and you’ll get faster. 🙂

    Steve- hooray!

    Craig- I’m glad you used it, would other unique templates be fun for you to see?

  30. Mark Eckenrode | HomeStomper

    September 18, 2008 at 11:05 am

    @lani – i can’t think of any place that i wouldn’t recommend a well designed flyer. in fact, something like what you’ve shown here will no doubt open new distribution channels for folks due to the quality of design alone (impressions matter)

  31. Postcard Printing | PrintPlace

    September 30, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    It’s hard to believe that those great pics came from that house. At first I was going to comment that I’d rather see a shot of the outside of the house in one of those four pics, but the house looks so plain from the outside that I think going with inside shots to draw people in would definitely work better than putting an outside shot on flyer. I really like the hierarchy of the photos too. Simple, yet I know what to look at first. Inspiring!

  32. Postcard Printing | DesignsnPrint.com

    March 25, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    This is a great inspiration! Thank you for sharing this!

  33. James!

    August 21, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    Very good piece of literature. Thanks for the good ideas. We have also tried to establish a “culture” or “branding” with the phrase “love where you live!”
    You can check out our culture as we try to improve on our presence at utluxuryapartments.com

  34. tomferry

    September 21, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    Lani– the title of your post- pure genius! Thx

  35. Karen

    November 8, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    I love this! I can’t wait to go play with this new tool!

  36. Ruthmarie Hicks

    July 17, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    Hi Lani,
    It’s interesting..I use “business cards” more than fliers. But I mostly do condos and coops right now and I can leave the business cards about the unit with the concierge and in local cafes and restaurants and stores etc. I find I am able to spread them around more as merchants are not worried about them cluttering up the place.

    I use the “faded” picture on Picnik for them and print on top of them – it can be tricky to get a clear effect – then on the back is a “bullet” of the listing information. I’d show you an example, but I don’t know how to upload to you.

  37. Nick Nymark

    July 17, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    Great Article! Will Definitely have to try!

  38. Property Marbella

    July 18, 2010 at 1:18 am

    Good and interesting article, many new things to look over and test.

  39. Michael Bertoldi

    July 18, 2010 at 1:22 am

    Awesome piece Lani. Not much else needs to be said. This is inspirational and I can’t wait to try this format.

  40. Fred Romano

    July 18, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    First – I am amazed at how quickly this post got ranked by Google! Love the idea for the flyer but I rarely print anything nowadays.

  41. abraham

    August 12, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    Great article.

    Here’s my example inspried by your artwork.
    https://neworleans.craigslist.org/reb/1895512064.html
    I made the entire picture a link back to my site on craigslist. I can see a tremendous amount of traffic coming from this ad, compared to my other ads (postlets, html, plain print).

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Lani Rosales

      August 13, 2010 at 12:36 am

      Abraham, that is fantastic! It looks great and I’m so glad to hear you’re seeing results!

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Coaching

Disputing a property’s value in a short sale: turn a no into a go

During a short sale, there may be various obstacles, with misaligned property values ranking near the top, but it doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker!

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magic eight ball

magic eight ball

It’s about getting your way

Were you on the debate team in high school? Were you really effective at convincing your parent or guardian to let you do things that you shouldn’t have been doing? How are your objection-handling skills? Can you flip a no into a go?

When working on short sales, there is one aspect of the process that may require those excellent negotiation or debate skills: disputing the property value. In a short sale, the short sale lender sends an appraiser or broker to the property and this individual conducts a Broker Price Opinion or an appraisal, using special forms provided by the short sale lender.

After this individual completes the Broker Price Opinion or the appraisal, he or she will return it to the short sale lender. Shortly thereafter, the short sale lender will be ready to talk about the purchase price. Will the lender accept the offer on the table or is the lender looking for more? If the lender is seeking an offer for a lot more than the one on the table, mentally prepare for the fact that you will need to conduct a value dispute.

Value Dispute Process

While each of the different short sale lenders (including Fannie Mae) has their own policies and procedures for value dispute, all these procedures have some things in common. Follow the steps below in order to conduct an effective value dispute.

  1. Inquire about forms. Ask your short sale lender if there are specific forms that you need to complete in order to conduct a value dispute. Obtain those forms if necessary.
  2. Gather information. Your goal is to convince the lender to accept the buyer’s offer, so you need to demonstrate that your offer is in line with the value of the property. Collect data that proves this point, such as reports from the MLS, Trulia, Zillow, or your local title company.
  3. Take photos. If there are parts of the property that are substandard and possibly were not revealed to the lender by the individual conducting the BPO, take photos of those items. Perhaps the kitchen has no flooring, or there is a 40-year old roof. Take photos to demonstrate these defects.
  4. Obtain bids. For any defects on the property, obtain a minimum of two bids from licensed contractors. For example, obtain two bids from roofers or structural engineers if necessary
  5. Write a report. Think back to high school English class if necessary. Write a short essay that references your information, photos, and bids, and explains how these items support your buyer’s value. This is not something that you whip up in five minutes. Spend time preparing a compelling appeal.

It is entirely possible that some lenders will not be particularly open-minded when it comes to valuation dispute. However, more times than not, an effective value dispute leads to short sale approval.

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Coaching

Short sale standoffs: how to avoid getting hit

The short sale process can feel a lot like a wild west standoff, but there are ways to come out victorious, so let’s talk about those methods:

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short sales standoff

short sales standoff

What is a short sale standoff?

If you are a short sale listing agent, a short sale processor, or a short sale negotiator then you probably already know about the short sale standoff. That’s when you are processing a short sale with more than one lien holder and neither will agree to the terms offered by the other. Or… better yet, each one will not move any further in the short sale process until they see the short sale approval letter from the other lien holder.

Scenario #1 – You are processing a short sale with two different mortgage-servicing companies. Bank 1 employees tell you that they will proceed with the short sale, and they will offer Bank 2 a certain amount to release their lien. You call Bank 2 and tell them the good news. Unfortunately, the folks at Bank 2 want more money. If Bank 1 and Bank 2 do not agree, then you are in a standoff.

Scenario #2 – You are processing a short sale with two different mortgage-servicing companies. Bank 1 employees tell you that they cannot generate your approval letter until you present them with the approval letter from Bank 2. Bank 2 employees tell you the exact same thing. Clearly, in this situation, you are in a standoff.

How to Avoid the Standoff

If you are in the middle of a standoff, then you are likely very frustrated. You’ve gotten pretty far in the short sale process and you are likely receiving lots of pressure from all of the parties to the transaction. And, the lenders are not helping much by creating the standoff.

Here are some ideas for how to get out of the situation:

  • Go back to the first lien holder and ask them if they are willing to give the second lien holder more money.
  • Go to the second lien holder and tell them that the first lien holder has insisted on a maximum amount and see if they will budge.
  • If no one will budge, find out why. Is this a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan? If so, they have a maximum that they allow the second. And, if you alert the second of that information, they may become more compliant.
  • Worst case: someone will have to pay the difference. Depending on the laws in your state, it could be the buyer, the seller, or the agents (yuck). No matter what, make sure that this contribution is disclosed to all parties and appears on the short sale settlement statement at closing.
  • In Scenario #2, someone’s got to give in. Try explaining to both sides where you are and see if one will agree to generate their approval letter. If not, follow the tips provided in this Agent Genius article and take your complaint to the streets.

One thing about short sales is that the problems that arise can be difficult to resolve merely because of the number of parties involved—and all from remote locations. Imagine how much easier this would be if all parties sat at the same table and broke bread? If we all sat at the same table, then we wouldn’t need armor in order to avoid the flying bullets from the short sale standoff.

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Coaching

Short sale approval letters don’t arrive in the blink of an eye

Short sale approval letters may look like they’ve been obtained simply by experts, but it takes time and doesn’t just happen with luck.

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short sale approval

Short sale approval: getting prepared, making it happen

People always ask me how it is that I obtain short sale approval letters with such ease. The truth is, that while I have more short sale processing and negotiating experience than most agents and brokers, I don’t just blink my eyes like Jeannie and make those short sale approval letters appear. I often sweat it, just like everyone else.

Despite the fact that I do not have magical powers, I do have something else on my side—education. One of the most important things than can lead to short sale success for any and all agents is education.

Experience dictates that agents that learn about the short sale process
have increased short sale closings.

Short sale education opportunities abound

There are many ways to become educated about the short sale process and make getting short sale approval letters look easy to obtain. These include:

  • Classes at your local board of Realtors®
  • Free short sale webinars and workshops
  • The short sale or foreclosure specialist designations

As the distressed property arena grows and changes, it is important to always stay abreast of policy changes that may impact how you do your job and how you process any short sale that lands on your plate.

The most important thing to do is to read, read, read. Follow short sale specialists and those who blog about short sales on AGBeat, Google+, facebook, and twitter. Set up a Google Alert for the term ‘short sale’ and you will receive Google’s top short sale picks daily in your email inbox. Visit mortgagor websites to read up on their specific policies and procedures.

Don’t take on too much

And, when you get a call from a prospective short sale seller, make sure that you don’t bit off more than you can chew. Agents in most of America right now are clamoring for listings since we are in the midst of a listing shortage. But, if you are going to take on a short sale, be sure that it is a deal that you can close. And, if you have your doubts, why not partner up with a local agent that can mentor your and assist you in getting the job done? After all, half a commission check is better than none!

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